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Three Commandments Of Veggie Stock

February 20, 2011

My three commandments of vegetable stock:

  1. Thou shalt not buy veggie stock from the store.
  2. Thou shalt not buy veggies for the sole purpose of using them in vegetable stock.
  3. Thou shalt never make veggie stock with the same ingredients twice.

If you are spending even a dime on ingredients for your veggie stock, I would wager that what you are making isn’t as good as it could be and certainly isn’t as efficient.

For about six months now, we’ve been making stock as recommended by my brother-in-law, a big recycler. Our soups have improved dramatically, and we’re struggling to find enough food for our composting worms. Good news on two fronts!

So what’s the secret here? We’ve been using about 80% scrap vegetables left over from cooking and 20% vegetables that are a bit past their prime. We store the scraps in a plastic bag in our freezer until we have about a liter or two worth and then go to town with them. In our last batch, we had the tops of leeks, the bottoms of romaine hearts, the ends of scallions, half a watermelon radish, beet skins and scraps, and a few fingerling and sweet potatoes that were past their prime. The only thing we don’t use is cruciferous vegetables, which while nutritious have a strong taste that can overwhelm the broth.

We turned these into stock using pretty traditional methods:

  • Heated several tbsp olive oil in a stock pan
  • Sauteed two big minced garlic cloves
  • Added a bay leaf and any herbs you have on hand (fresh rosemary and thyme are especially good)
  • Roast any vegetable scraps belonging to the onion family (leeks, scallions, actual onions, etc.)
  • Added the rest of the vegetables and roasted
  • Added about 8 cups of water, brought to a boil, turned down the heat, and let simmer for several hours
  • Poured through a strainer into used yogurt tubs that we’ve measured and marked
  • Using one immediately and freezing the rest

The result is usually a little pink (thanks to beets), always a little different, and every single time absolutely delicious. And it is so gratifying to know that we’re making the stock out of things that other people might throw away. It’s like getting something for (almost) nothing.

So I urge you: Don’t waste fresh vegetables on veggie stock recipes. Instead, save and use your veggie scraps.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 11:27 pm

    I also freeze veggie scraps for use in stocks later – not just veggie stocks, but chicken and turkey stock as well. Hearts and ends of celery, bits of carrot, any greens or trimmings. They all go into a bag in the freezer and then once every 4-6 weeks I make a big batch of stock.

    One tip for you – instead of cooking your stock on the stovetop, try it in the oven. It heats from all directions rather than from the bottom up, and results in a stock that isn’t overboiled at the bottom before the top even gets warm.

  2. February 23, 2011 11:16 pm

    Interesting idea to cook the stock in the oven. We will definitely try it and see if there is a difference!

    I have a friend who swears by lobster stock, too. It sounds like it’s easy, but then again is anything related to lobster ever easy?

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